In the late afternoon of April 2, the Board of Bucks County Commissioners began its annual shift to bi-weekly business meetings outside the familiar confines of the Courthouse Community Room. Venturing less than two miles down Rte. 611 to Tabor Children’s Services, the board addressed a slim agenda that included 13 items involving 10 County departments (one item was untabled from Nov. 16, 2013).
The cozy setting inside the Tabor Children’s House – which is celebrating its Centennial serving local youth – prompted Commissioner Chairman Robert G. Loughery to observe: “This is probably the most comfortable we’ve all been together at a meeting.” The packed room has served Tabor in many capacities throughout the years, including a dining hall and office space. Commissioner Marseglia told attendees that Tabor is special to her because she did her graduate work at the facility 31 years ago.
A highlight of the agenda was the unanimous approval of a $100,000 contract for federal CDBG funding for a 15-month job training program for fabricated metal product manufacturing through the Bucks County Community College (BCCC). This program funding will be managed by the County’s recently reconfigured Housing & Community Development department. According to BCCC President Dr. Stephanie Shanblatt, this program will be a “truly public-private partnership that provides training for needs they (local companies) have today.” She explained that program participants will be pre-screened, receiving instruction four days a week and spending one a day a week shadowing current employees of participating companies. The program curriculum will be developed, and about 100 students are projected over the 15 months (likely in groups of about 15 at a time). Chairman Loughery praised the new venture, noting that it follows one of the former Economic Development Advisory Board’s mandates to generate “workforce development.”
By a 2-1 margin (with Commissioner Marseglia dissenting), the board approved a pair of General Services contracts related to the new Justice Center project. The first was a $48,938.62 contract increase with General Contractor Ernest Bock & Sons, Inc. for installation of fire rated shaft wall to meet code requirements. According to Chairman Loughery, “The work going on in that building is just incredible now.” County Director of Operations Jerry Anderson shared a pair of pictures from the interior of the Justice Center, noting that many of the change orders will be submitted for potential reimbursement on an “errors and omissions” list.
The second General Services item was a $100,200 contract increase for construction administration services with Justice Center architect Hellmuth, Obata & Kassabaum, P.C. Mr. Anderson explained that the County is evaluating this contract on a month-to-month basis until the project is complete.
The board also approved an Emergency Communications (Narrowbanding) Memorandum of understanding with the 111th Fighter Wing of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard in Horsham for secured storage space to house equipment for the new 911 system.
Chairman Loughery motioned to untable a Register of Wills legal agreement from the November 16, 2013 Commissioners’ Meeting regarding legal fees related to a lawsuit against the office. Following discussion and a “nay” vote from Commissioner Marseglia, Chairman Loughery and Commissioner Martin voted to approve the bill of $165 per hour for Begley, Carlin & Mandio, LLP to provide litigation services for a federal lawsuit.
The meeting opened with a pair of proclamations. Commissioner Marseglia designated April as the “Month of the Young Child.” She explained: “This is a national recognition for early childhood teachers and caregivers, saluting their efforts to make a difference in the lives of young children and their work helping children develop the skills they will need to succeed in school.”
Chairman Loughery proclaimed April 6-12 “Crime Victims’ Right Week” throughout the County, praising the Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) for its work in the community. In an annual ceremony, victims and families will gather with community leaders at Newtown Friends Meetinghouse on Tuesday, April 8 at 6:30 p.m. for a candlelight service to honor all victims of violent crimes.
During his bi-weekly report, Chief Operating Officer Brian Hessenthaler commended the County Children & Youth Social Services Agency for a recent state records inspection that resulted in “zero violations.” He also reminded residents that Monday, April 21 is the last day to register to vote in the May 20 General Primary election.
Chief Clerk Lynn Bush reported that Doylestown Township is the recipient of a Governor’s Award for Excellence for its Destination Peace Valley project. Township Supervisor Barbara Lyons was on hand to acknowledge the recognition.
During Commissioners’ remarks, Commissioner Martin asked meeting attendees to remember former County Public Works Director Joseph A. Bush, Jr., who served as division leader for 17 years. Mr. Bush passed away on March 26, 2014.
The next meeting of the Board of Bucks County Commissioners will take place at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at ITT Technical Institute, 311 Veterans Highway, Levittown. For a complete audio account of the April 2 business meeting, please visit the official county website, www.BucksCounty.org, and click on the “Audio from Last Mtg” link on the home page.